Kenyan Gambling Control Bill 2023 Establishes New Regulator and Proposes Reforms

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Kenyan Parliament is considering a Gambling Control Bill proposed to have a new Gambling Regulatory Authority established in the country. As soon as the bill is approved, it will replace the Betting, Control and Licensing Board (BCLB) currently regulating the Kenyan gambling market.

New Legislation:

As reported by a source, the Gambling Control Bill 2023 (pdf) anticipates the incorporation of the Board’s present mandate into the new Authority that will govern gambling licensing and regulation matters in the Kenyan jurisdiction. “The bill seeks to regulate betting, casinos and other forms of gambling, including the authorization of prize competitions, public lotteries and media promotions,” the bill reportedly states. The measure designed to improve the overall gambling environment in the country is sponsored by National Assembly Majority leader Kimani Ichung’wah, according to the source.

It means that the leading state authorities support the Gambling Control Bill 2023 as a measure that will ensure compliance with licensing requirements. These expectations are mounted against the previous 2022 statements reporting that the majority of gambling operators repeatedly failed to comply with these requirements. For this reason, the new legislation introduces a wide range of measures to secure legal compliance of gambling stakeholders in the country. These reportedly include an increased gambling taxes and fines for violation of license terms and conditions, as well as the prohibition of children’s registrations for gambling activities.

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Gambling Bill Provisions:

The bill will also set the minimum wagering deposits to KES20 ($0.13) prescribing a statutory fine of KES5 million (around $33,000) for any violations of the KES20 minimum stake requirement. Also, the source reports that the proposed bill will ban radio and TV stations from presenting gambling advertisements between 6am and 10pm. The Gambling Control Bill 2023 further requires that Kenyan citizens hold a minimum of 30% shares in the companies licensed for gambling operations in the country. The operators are additionally required to ensure that all gambling-related transactions are carried out through banks registered in Kenya.

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As a warranty of the commitment to legal operations, all gambling entities will have to deposit a bank guarantee or insurance bond to cover any failures to comply with the license terms and conditions. Casino operators will reportedly be required to deposit KES20 million (around $131,500), and KES200 million (around $1,3 million) for online sports betting and lotteries, respectively.

15% Tax Introduction

As reported, the new Gambling Authority will also govern the licensing of all lotteries as  a 30% minimum of these revenues will be allocated for charitable purposes. The authority will ensure the compliance of all gambling stakeholders in the jurisdiction and impose fines and penalties for any violations. The source reports that unlicensed lottery promotions may result in a KES1 million (around $6,500) fine or a one-year jail sentence. Last but not the least, the Gambling Control Bill 2023 will introduce a 15% tax on gross gambling revenues to replace the currently effective 7.5 % tax on betting stakes. In this way, the new legislation will cut the Gordian Knot and resolve the long-standing controversies around the Kenyan gambling tax system.

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